Enhancing Digital Asset Management Systems

Digital asset management improvements. Flickr photo by ganesha.isisWe don’t sit still at MerlinOne. When we see a need for new workflow tools, or when our customers give us ideas for new features we seriously evaluate the suggestions and decide whether and when to incorporate them. We have lots of competing development going on so it is often a balancing act to schedule enhancements to our products.

I am happy to report that some of the items that I have been working on have now been incorporated into a number of our digital asset management (DAM) products.

First up, Trax. While Trax, our assignment management system for requests, scheduling and tracking, received an upgrade and a facelift recently, there were some new features I was anxious to have, and some are pretty cool.

New fields in Trax allow for requests to be sorted by ZIP Code, or managed by publication for sites that have more than one publication. Additionally, assigned requests now include a calendar ICS file with emailed requests allowing assigned individuals to add the assignment information to their local calendar with one click. Nice! And one more Trax improvement… a new budget form, designed for story budgets.

The latest version of WebMaster, our web browser based Merlin digital asset management client, includes some great new enhancements. Web users may now upload photos using a web upload form. The form allows users to include metadata. Of course these users need to belong to a group that permits uploads. Batch download of items, and the ability to resize jpgs on download are part of the latest version of WebMaster. The labels and the download sizes are configurable. My favorite new addition to WebMaster, is better project (light box) management. It is now easy to add multiple items to a project and to add content from one project to another as part of a selection/editing process.

Other small WebMaster improvements include adding a color code to content based on values in a targeted field so users, at a glance, can spot approved and/or restricted content. It is also now possible to prevent users of specific groups from downloading certain content. For example, you want your users to see everything, but want to prevent them from downloading certain restricted items. Based on tagging, it is possible to configure Merlin to prevent these downloads.

One final Webmaster feature I really like which has already been in limited use by some of our customers is our “Recipient Workflow.” For hosted sites, or for sites that allow outside access to their internal Merlin’s, it is now possible to “give” specific content to specific users even if they are not routine Merlin users. Many of our non-profit customers use this to provide targeted content to outside users like the news media.

Most of our customers have upgraded to Merlin 5, or will be moving to Merlin 5 soon. As you know, M5 will support the soon-to-be-released Mac OS 10.7 (Lion) operating system for Macintosh users. Windows support for XP, Vista and Windows 7 continues.

An updated version of the M5 rich digital asset management client is currently going through QA. It includes lots of little enhancements based on user feedback including an external cropping window. Users now have the option of cropping in the existing single view, or invoking an external window, that may be larger, for cropping. Other enhancements include improved project management tools, support for secondary monitors (or projectors) and some plumbing enhancements that should improve the user’s overall experience with faster scrolling and proof printing.

If you are a Merlin user, we will contact you about these updates. If you are not a Merlin user, and you want to know how Merlin can help you manage your important digital assets, contact me or my colleague Rande Simpson.

Posted by David Breslauer
Flickr photo by ganesha.isis

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